We’re living in a politically, economically and socially murky world. There’s a lot of turmoil and volatility. Feelings of uncertainty born of these macro conditions cause frustration and stress.
This often leads to unpredictable behavior where events, promises and expectations don’t play out as expected.
The result is feeling blindsided.
Within two weeks, three very different examples of being blindsided happened to clients. Their experiences have common threads.
It will be good to understand what happened to these folks and prepare to react thoughtfully and strategically if you find yourselves in a similar position.
Here are the three scenarios:
- One client went in for a performance review. They had every reason to anticipate a positive review….which they received. They were then laid off.
- Another had a verbal job offer but was told a week later, after declining interviews at other companies, that the offering company had decided to hire internally.
- An intern verbally criticized a CEO in an open staff meeting.
All three experiences induced the same initial reaction – shock. That was quickly followed by anger which then turned into self-questioning.
How could this have happened?
Am I not worthy?
Should I have seen this coming?
What did I miss?
In many cases, self-questioning is a valuable form of reflection. But in these instances, it can quickly become self-sabotage and lead to a lack of confidence. Fortunately, all three recognized that negative self-questioning was unproductive, and they reached out and asked for advice.
Asking for advice is the first thing all three scenarios have in common.
Interestingly, five other universal learnings came from these very different experiences.
1) They all paused in the moment
When taking the blindside hit, none overreacted. They paused, stepped back and asked for more information. Pausing prevents escalation and gives all parties a chance to regroup.
2) They all read the room
Separating emotion from fact helps determine your best response to any situation. At the same time, it’s essential to consider the source of information. In the case of the layoff, hers was not performance-based but part of a more extensive company-wide layoff in the fintech industry.
In the case of the rescinded offer, it quickly became apparent that the person who had offered the job needed more authority within the company to make this hiring decision. Chances are this role would not have been a good fit.
The CEO quickly understood the intern’s motivations but also saw that she lacked the knowledge to substantiate her claims.
3) They all found a silver lining
There is always an upside if you look for it. You’ll find it faster if you don’t spend time in your head blaming yourself. Severance, A positive recommendation. The opportunity to find a better job fit. The right climate to survey staff and get feedback on behavior and performance.
All this and more came from these experiences and measured responses.
4) They all quickly got strategic
Once the silver living was found, each acted quickly and decisively. The two jobseekers focused on new opportunities, one with a positive performance review. Both began their job searches armed with more strategic questions for potential employers.
The CEO immediately began a series of conversations with staff to get feedback on her leadership style, asking for areas in which she could improve. Happily, she discovered that her team did not share the intern’s views. These conversations have led to more open lines of communication and a healthier culture.
5) They all developed a Plan B
If you’ve been blindsided once, you certainly don’t want it to happen again. All three learned from their experiences and integrated their ideas into how they approached their work.
For the job seekers, they evaluated potential employers more deeply, asking questions about the company’s valuation, growth plans and contingency planning that account for economic fluctuations.
For the CEO, she will conduct yearly stay interviews and revisit each employee’s career pathing strategy to make sure her people feel fulfilled and challenged.
Learning from a blindside hit takes courage, but the long-term benefits can outweigh the initial, emotionally negative experience.
Hoping this won’t happen to you is not a strategy.
Having planned your reactions to this moment, you’ll look back knowing you reacted well and moved forward with pride and confidence.